We’ve all heard about the 47 Million people that are uninsured, and the breakdowns for those figures have been posted here and in other places. And yet there are another set of figures that are being used to justify government’s interjection into another portion of our lives.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is working on a alternative healthcare bill that, quite frankly, is probably going to turn out just as bad if not worse than what is in the House. And here are some of the numbers that he is throwing around to justify his version of healthcare hell as reported by the online version of Newsweek:
One study "found that every year in America, lack of health coverage leads to 45,000 deaths," he told the committee. "No one should die because they cannot afford health care. This bill would fix that."
If only all this were irrefutable. But Baucus’s claims are shaky. It is questionable whether more insurance would save 45,000 lives a year. Unfortunately, just having insurance doesn’t automatically improve people’s health. Sometimes more medical care doesn’t really help. Sometimes people don’t go to doctors when they should or follow instructions (take medicine, alter lifestyles). Indeed, many people don’t even sign up for insurance to which they’re entitled. An Urban Institute study estimated that 10.9 million people eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2007 didn’t enroll.
The 45,000 figure cited by Baucus is itself an unreliable statistical construct built on many assumptions. It’s based on a study of 9,004 people ages 17 to 64 who were examined between 1988 and 1994. By 2000, 351 had died; of these, 60 were uninsured. The crude death rates among the insured (3 percent of whom died) and uninsured (3.3 percent) were within the statistical margin of error. After adjustments for age, income and other factors, the authors concluded that being uninsured raises the risk of death by 40 percent. They then extrapolated this to the entire population by two techniques, one producing an estimate of 35,327 premature deaths and another of 44,789.
This whole elaborate statistical edifice rests on a flimsy factual foundation. The point is not to deny that the uninsured are more vulnerable (they are) or that extra insurance wouldn’t help (it would). The point is that estimating how much is extremely difficult. Advocates exaggerate the benefits. Remember: Today’s uninsured do receive care.
Hmmm….Unreliable statistics….I wonder where else this has been used. Let’s look at the following from the Wall Street Journal:
While Americans may have a lower life expectancy than other affluent countries, the disparity is mainly due to Americans’ poor personal health-care practices — not to any flaw in health-care treatment. "The U.S. actually does a pretty good job of identifying and treating the major diseases. The international comparisons don’t show we’re in dire straits," says University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Samuel Preston, a researcher who has studied the matter.
The real problem, it turns out, is that Americans are accident-prone, health unconscious slobs. Until the mid-1980s, the U.S. had the highest per capita cigarette consumption in the developed world, and the U.S.’s obesity rate today is more than twice that of Canada and ten times that of Japan. These aren’t problems of the health care system (i.e. in the diagnosis and treatment of disease). These are problems of behavior. Adjust that data for the higher U.S. incidence of homicide and obesity, and Americans actually have the highest life expectancy in the developed world.
And here we have been told that the mortality of Americans is greater than other industrialized countries (which coincidentally have socialized medicine) due to shortcomings of our healthcare system. Of course, who have been telling us this lie? The proponents of “health care reform.”
The response of the proponents to any scrutiny is to shut down any analysis & criticism. In other words, the opposite of transparency as promised by then candidate Barack Obama. Except that is not going to happen here. Again, from the Wall Street Journal:
Polls show overwhelming agreement outside the Beltway that it’s more important for Congress to get health-care reform done right than done quickly. A Polling Company survey conducted last month found 95% agreeing that members of Congress shouldn’t vote on any bill they haven’t read in full.
That’s why the bipartisan duo of Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington Democrat, and Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, came up with the "72-hour resolution," which would require all non-emergency legislation to be posted online, in final form, for at least 72 hours prior to a floor vote. "Members of Congress are too often asked to make decisions on bills that can be longer than telephone books and are only given a few hours to actually read them," says Rep. Baird. "Both parties are guilty, and both should stop doing it."
Although Barack Obama campaigned last year for transparency and openness in government, their idea has languished in committee since June. It has 67 Republican and 31 Democratic co-sponsors—a rare show of bipartisanship. Normally, bills can’t be considered for a floor vote until House leadership schedules them. That’s why Messrs. Baird and Walden filed a discharge petition to dislodge their bill from committee this week. If a majority of members (218) sign it, their proposal can be voted on over the objections of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But the notion of a 72-hour waiting period is anathema to Democrats who fear that they are running out of time to pass a sweeping health-care bill. This week, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag told Bloomberg News that "the goal" is to finish the entire health-care debate "over the next six weeks or so, maybe sooner." The six-week deadline is critical because it would mean a health-care bill would pass into law just before voters in Virginia and New Jersey go to the polls on Nov. 3 to elect a governor and state legislators. Right now, the GOP leads in both states and nervous Democrats see that as a measure of their stalled health-care reform plans.
So it appears Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress have decided to ram a bill through as quickly as possible. On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee voted 12 to 11 to reject a proposal to require a 72-hour waiting period and a full scoring of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office before the committee casts any final vote. Only one Democrat, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, voted for the waiting period. Chairman Max Baucus said the idea would delay a vote on the final bill for two weeks and he didn’t want to waste another moment.
On the House side, Mrs. Pelosi has told reporters that members will have "a period of time that is sufficient" to consider the final health-care language. But she clearly doesn’t want her hands tied. House leadership aides were stationed on the House floor where members must go to sign the 72-hour discharge petition. Mr. Baird acknowledged that leadership aides were strongly discouraging his fellow Democrats from signing. As of yesterday, 173 members had affixed their names, but they included only five of the 31 Democratic co-sponsors.
So not only are there bad figures being used to justify this legislation, but a wall has been raised to keep the populace from seeing what their Representatives and Senators are voting on. And to keep anyone from finding out what they are up to, they want to rush this legislation through.
But should such “important” legislation be rushed through? Not in my book, especially when I have seen the adage “haste makes waste” too many times. Considering that President Obama took a weekend off before signing the TARP bill after Congress jumped through hoops to get it passed tells me that no legislation outside of an bona fide national emergency must be passed immediately.
The whole “healthcare crisis” is a manufactured one, one that would provide political power to people who have no business having such power over the citizens of this country.
We the People must impress upon our Congress-critters that they work for us, not the other way around. It is time for them to provide their bosses (us) a progress report on exactly what they are doing, and not beat around the bush.
Otherwise, it’s time to fire their asses.